Rural round-up

July 12, 2016

Taking on the big issues in big country – Kate Taylor:

After driving into the Ormond Valley property of Charlie Reynolds, it’s not surprising that rural roads is an issue he’s hot under the collar about.

Tight gravel roads are everywhere in rural New Zealand and Ngakoroa Road near Gisborne is one of them. In the next few years, Reynolds is going to have to warn all visitors about the forestry harvesting happening at the end of his road.

“It is 300 hectares so we will see 3000 to 4000 logging trucks passing our farm gate before they’re finished… and that’s a small block in comparison to what’s around the rest of the region,” he says. . . 

Will losing guaranteed milk supply stir Goodman Fielder to action? – Keith Woodford:

Since the formation of Fonterra in 2001, Goodman Fielder has always had a guaranteed supply of 250 million litres of Fonterra milk.   MPI Minister Nathan Guy is now proposing that the time has come for Goodman Fielder to fend for itself.

For the last fifteen years, the major milk supply chain in New Zealand has comprised one supplier (Fonterra), two processors (Fonterra and Goodman Fielder) and two supermarket chains (Foodstuffs and Progressive).  It has indeed been a cosy arrangement.

It is this cosy arrangement, combined with a goods and services tax on food of 15% which is either absent or imposed at a lower rate in most countries, that has led to milk in New Zealand supermarkets being more expensive than elsewhere.  The processing and marketing margins are not disclosed, so the relative returns to the processors and supermarkets can only be estimated. But it is a fair bet that both processors and supermarkets do rather nicely. . . 

Tim Mackle is 2016 Landcorp Communicator of the Year:

The chief executive of DairyNZ, Dr Tim Mackle, is the winner of the 2016 Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year. 

The judges noted that in his time as DairyNZ CEO, Tim’s excellence as a communicator has enabled him to provide an extraordinary level of leadership for the dairy sector.  This has been particularly evident over the last 12 months when the industry has faced a difficult period in the media with low milk prices, issues with animal welfare and environmental standards.

“He has spoken out, challenged opinions and most importantly, used his position to educate and change views of the sector. His has been a prevailing voice for his industry and he has regularly featured on television news and in daily regional and national publications.” . . .

Enterprising Rural Women Awards entries open for 2016:

The Enterprising Rural Women Awards (ERWA) offer women who run their own rural businesses the opportunity to showcase their innovative rural enterprise and gain recognition for their success.

Rural Women New Zealand invite entries from businesswomen who have strong entrepreneurial skills, are innovative and embrace new technology, and are active in their rural community.

2016 ERWA categories: . . 

NZ Fur Council Backs Environment Commission recommendation to do more to control possums:

In the state of New Zealand’s environment report released today, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has found that pests are among the high priorities for action.

The report highlights concern that the control of possums and other pests is only happening in one–eighth of the Conservation estate, signifying that our native plants and animals are losing the war against pests.

Neil Mackie, Chair of the New Zealand Fur Council (NZFC) applauds the Commisisoner’s report and says fur recovery is a sustainable approach to winning the war against possums. . . 

Feds honour those who excel in primary sector:

Federated Farmers has unveiled six winners in its inaugural National Conference Awards.

The awards celebrate excellence in agriculture and the contributions made by Federated Farmers’ members to further enhance the primary industry.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston said those nominated had gone above the call of duty, putting in significant time and energy to serve and advance the entire primary industry.

Federated Farmers’ Bee Industry Group Chairperson John Hartnell MNZM from Canterbury was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Federated Farmers for his unrivalled commitment to the Federation and the bee industry. . . 

Expert tips help calves get the best start:

Calving season just got a little bit easier thanks to a new series of online videos from SealesWinslow.

The 2 minute clips provide quick and relevant advice from SealesWinslow nutritionist and quality manager, Wendy Morgan, allowing calf rearers to refresh their knowledge and access useful information while on the go.

Wendy says that giving calves the best possible start is vital to setting up dairy cows for a long and productive life.

“It starts with having a good calving plan; ensuring calves get the right nutrition at the right time and making best use of farm facilities to provide the best calf housing. . . 


Rural round-up

October 13, 2015

Location and movement sensors thwart hive thieves – Tim Fulton:

Thieves are stealing manuka honey hives, forcing beekeepers to protect their hives using location and movement sensors.

Manuka-rich regions like Northland and Waikato, down to the wide-open pastures and hill country of the South Island, are being targeted.

Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group chairman John Hartnell said the country had nearly 600,000 hives –double the number at the turn of the century. . .

Love of dairying overcomes cow allergy – Barbara Gillham:

An allergy to cows has not stopped Sheree Walters from fulfilling her dream of dairy farming.

She feels she has time and experience on her side as she works toward her ultimate goal of running her own run-off block.

Currently working as a support technician for  on their 2700ha dairy farm near the small rural community of Hororata in North Canterbury, Walters says she has always loved dairy farming.

Although her parents did not farm, she was fortunate to have an uncle that had a dairy farm and lived nearby.

“When I was younger I always used to go to his farm after school and help out; he milked about 150 cows and I was always down there any chance I had,” she says. . . 

Hopes for better rural health services:

NZLocums, A recruitment division of the NZ Rural General Practice Network, has placed its first nurse practitioner in a permanent role in a New Zealand rural general practice.

Network chairwoman and Temuka nurse practitioner Sharon Hansen hopes for more such appointments, saying these nurse practitioners in rural areas are “absolutely” positive for the community.

Nurse practitioners have master’s degrees and must go through an extensive assessment by the Nursing Council. They can do a wider range of duties than other nurses, including some diagnosis and prescribing of medicines. . . 

Cloudy Bay celebrates its 30th vintage wine:

Stories of entrepreneurs are usually inspiring, but not many tales are as dramatic as that of Cloudy Bay wines, whose makers are celebrating its 30th vintage.

This is the stuff of urban legend. One minute, a gung-ho Australian takes a couple of sips of Marlborough sauvignon blanc (1983), the following year he is travelling to Marlborough and unwittingly planting the seeds of one of the most successful wine brands in the last half century.

The man in question is David Hohnen. He was in Western Australia when he first tasted Marlborough sauvignon blanc, so he wasn’t exactly handy to the region.

But his sixth sense back then of right time-right place enabled him to take the plunge and investigate further. . . 

 

Farm sitters settle in – Shan Goodwin:

FARM sitting has been plugging gaps left by the trend for retired producers to relocate to the coast and the mining boom induced farm labour shortage in the past decade, but now it’s emerging as the newest agriculture profession.

Attracted by the extensive travel opportunities, diversity, flexibility and next-to-nothing living expenses of being a short-term caretaker of somebody else’s operation, experienced farmers are selling up to become full-time farm sitters.

Rural community and farm industry leaders say the growth of the concept of farm sitting has many pluses, not the least being the retention of knowledge and skills in agriculture and the social and economic benefits of additional faces in small bush towns. . . 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2015

 Wendy Avery – strong woman behind the man – Barbara Gillaham:

Doug Avery is well known throughout the farming community as a man who has faced adversity, immense stress and the dark pit of depression.

Battling through all of these, plus ongoing droughts, and other serious setbacks on the family’s South Marlborough farm Bonavaree, today he has successfully turned his farm into a high-performing business.

Now with the farm safely managed by his son Fraser, Doug is busy touring the country presenting his Resilient Farmer plan, reaching out to other farmers in New Zealand suffering from stress and depression.

Although he laughingly describes himself as a “sad bastard” Doug Avery has proven himself a strong man in every sense of the word. . .

50 years with Alliance Group – Brittany Pickett:

Separating faeces and intestines may not be for everyone but for Ian Miller it has been a 50 year long career.

The Invercargill man began his career at the Makarewa Alliance plant in May 1965, at the tender age of 16, after his father, also a long-time Alliance employee, decided it was time for his son to learn a trade.

“He went to the boss and said I’ve got a lad who’s not doing so good at school and then I started there with my father in the gut floor,” Miller said.

Adding to the family tradition, Miller’s two uncles also worked for Alliance. . .

 Corrections land returned to Tuwharetoa:

 Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga today helped celebrate the return of 8500ha of Crown land to Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Some of the land on the Tongariro/Rangipō Prison site will continue to be used by Corrections to help rehabilitate prisoners.  This includes about 700ha for a training farm for prisoners to hone their farming skills, giving them real work opportunities on release. The sale of the land to Ngāti Tūwharetoa was finalised today at a ceremony at Rongomai Marae near Taupō. …

Iwi partnership purchases Crown land and forests:

E ngā mana, e ngā reo o te motu, tēnā koutou katoa. E mihi ana ki a koutou i ngā āhuatanga o te wā.

A Ngāti Tūwharetoa partnership, the Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust (TST) and five other Tūwharetoa entities, have finalised the purchase of 8,500 hectares of Crown land in the central North Island. This includes around 4,000 hectares of timber plantations.

The sale and purchase by Hautu-Rangipo Whenua Limited (HRWL), valued at $52.7 million, was marked at Rongomai marae today by Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Ta Tumu te Heuheu, CNI Iwi representatives, and representatives of the iwi partnership.

TST Chairman, Dylan Tahau, said the deal has significant strategic and commercial benefits for the iwi partnership. . .

Tourism opportunity on burgeoning cycle trail:

A former regal Waitaki homestead that has been run as a commercial enterprise with links to the famous Scottish whisky Glenfiddich, has been placed on the market for sale.

Craigellachie was built by a Scottish migrant in 1899, who chose the name as it fondly reminded him of a place in Northern Scotland. Meaning ‘rocky hill’, Cragellachie is at the heart of Scotland’s malt whisky trail. The village sits above the Rivers Spey and Fiddich, whose valley or glen gives its name to arguably the country’s most famous whisky, Glenfiddich.

The New Zealand namesake is located at 399 Otiake Road in the Waitaki Valley settlement of Otiake. . .

 

Kiwi Consumers Pay Dearly for Manuka Honey Goldrush:

New Zealand honey consumers are being forced to pay dramatically higher retail prices for everyday honeys as exporters buy up all available table honeys to blend and sell as authentic manuka honey in global markets.

“There’s a goldrush mentality out there. Overseas demand is rapacious for manuka honey or a blend that can be labelled as manuka honey,” says industry leader and long-time advocate for transparent and internationally credible manuka honey quality standards, Peter Bray, managing director of Canterbury­-based Airborne Honey. Recognised world standards require a honey to be “wholly or mainly” made from the named source on the label yet a high proportion of honey sold as manuka fails to meet this threshold. . .

 

Unification the hot topic at the Conference of the National Beekeepers Association attended by Waikato Based SummerGlow Apiaries:

Unification has been one of the major topics at last week’s annual Conference of the National Beekeepers Association and Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group held at Wairakei, attend by Waikato based Manuka Honey producers SummerGlow Apiaries.

“This year has been the biggest event yet in terms of attendance as we have had over 830 registrations from all areas of the industry attend this year’s conference which is up from last year when 500 people attended,” says John Hartnell, Bees Chairperson of Federated Farmers Of New Zealand. . .

 

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Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

April 27, 2015

Raiders butcher prized beef Andrea Fox:

Cattle butchers have struck a beef breeding farm near Whakatane, slaughtering two valuable in-calf cows and forcing the destruction of two others because of gunshot wounds.

Residents of Herepuru Rd about 5km from Matata and 35km from Whakatane are meeting to discuss installing a security camera in the road after the incident last week, in which the cows, among 113 in a paddock near the roadside, were gunned down with a .22 rifle.

Farmer Chrissy Weeks hoped police were following good leads after a woman neighbour in the road on the way to work early last Wednesday morning confronted three men loading up a dark-coloured, late model sedan.  . .

The tech revolution and the farm ute – Andrew Hoggard:

In the near future when you talk to a farmer about their dashboard and what they  have on it, they won’t respond by telling you “a speedo and a fuel gauge you idiot”.

 Instead they may well talk about their daily production summary, weather forecast, water pressure monitoring, fence power status, vat refrigeration temperature, and many other things.

Now you may be wondering why you would want this sort of information on the dashboard of your tractor or ute.  But it’s not a vehicle dashboard we are talking about,  but a farm dashboard. . .

Dollar, dairy forecast, drought have impact on farm sales – Sally Rae:

Prudent farm purchasers have ”carefully assessed” the reduced milk price forecast and the high New Zealand dollar, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke says.

Drought conditions had also had a negative impact on some South Island regions, Mr Peacocke said.

Data released by REINZ showed there were 47 fewer farm sales for the three months ended March than for the corresponding period last year. . .

Commodity index down, but wool does well – Dean Mackenzie:

The ASB New Zealand commodity index fell last week but lamb, beef and wool prices all posted rises close to 2% in United States dollar terms.

The index fell 0.8% in New Zealand dollar terms, dragged down by a 1.9% appreciation in the dollar against the US currency. In contrast, the index rose 1.1% in US dollar terms, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said. . .

Hobby beekeeping takes off – Narelle Henson:

New Zealand is abuzz with enthusiasm over the humble bee, as hundreds of people a year sign up to hobby beekeeping.

John Hartnell, chairman of the Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group, said the last three years had seen numbers across the country explode. 

“We’ve got over 600 new beekeepers a year coming in. This year will probably be even greater than that. 

“We have an expectation that probably, come Christmas time, we might have 6000 beekeepers in the country and we might be heading towards 600,000 hives.” . . .

 

Horticultural production tops $7B, led by wine and apples – Fiona Rotherham:

Horticultural production has topped $7 billion for the first time, with good growth in nearly all the main industries, including wine, apples, potatoes, and onions.

The latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts shows in the year to June 30 2014 the horticultural industry was calculated to reach $7.16 billion in production, up from $6.7 billion the year before.

Exports rose by $300 million to $3.9 billion, an increase of nearly 7 percent on the previous year. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 16, 2014

One in the eye for dairying’s critics – Jon Morgan:

Dairying is the popular whipping boy of the age. Dissembling politicians, rabid environmentalists, lazy news media, ignorant online commenters – they all have a go.

They peddle the usual half-truths and blatant lies: Dairying is responsible for all water pollution, dairy farmers are saddled with too much debt, they are running too many cows, using too much nitrogen fertiliser and poisoning the soils and plants, they mistreat their workers, they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, they’re responsible for global warming, the moral decay of today’s youth, war in Ukraine, the Pope turning Communist and, don’t forget, they also shot JFK.

However, one or two of their assumptions will have to be revised after the release of the latest DairyNZ economic survey.

It was a surprise even for those who support dairying to learn from the survey – which has been running for 50 years – that the costs of dairy farming have stayed the same for the past 25 years and that farms are as affordable as 40 years ago. . .

Angus cleans up at Steak of Origin Grand Final:

Colin Brown from Cambridge has been named Grand Champion in the 2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition with his Angus processed at AgResearch Ruakura.

After being a finalist in previous years and his Lake Farm Beef brand winning Supreme Brand in 2009, Colin has taken out the competition, sponsored by Zoetis, to find the country’s most tender and tasty sirloin steak in the Grand Final at AgInnovation in Feilding this evening.

Colin is humbled with the announcement.  “I am absolutely thrilled with the result after being named as a finalist four times in the last six years, and finally taking the title”, he says. . . .

Victory for man with big stake in beef:

It’s taken a few years, but an artisan beef producer has finally cracked the big one.

Colin Brown of Lake Farm on the shore of lake Karapiro in Waikato won the grand champion title in the Steak of Origin competition this week with a pure Angus sirloin steak.

He’s been a finalist for four of the past six years and in 2009 he won the supreme brand award with his Lake Farm Beef brand.

He’s a small scale operator, producing his beef from 100 cattle, and selling directly to customers through the internet. . .

Rockstar awards showcase our rockstar dairy industry:

The only shame about last Friday’s 2014 New Zealand Dairy Awards, at Auckland’s SkyCity, was the absence of the dairying’s most ardent critics.  Instead it was the perfect showcase for the capability and dynamism of New Zealand’s leading export industry. 

“I can forgive the print media as the Canon Awards were on the same night and the media at our industry’s event got to see dairying in its dynamic reality.  Special thanks must go to the brilliant MC Mike McRoberts but especially the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“I honestly thought there would have been more than one Member of Parliament present but as MP’s go, the Minister for Primary Industries is a very big fish indeed.

“After the awards I saw one political party leader in a debate label-dairy low value.  There is no way you could hold those views if he’d attended these awards.  That’s the problem we have.  There are some who won’t risk shaking their beliefs by opening their eyes. . .

Firenze sires 40,000 cows, retires:

With more than 40,000 daughters in New Zealand alone there’s no denying Firenze has been one very busy bull.

The herd improvement company CRV Ambreed retired the 12-year-old holstein-friesian bull this week at a ceremony in Hamilton.

Firenze has generated about $8 million in revenue and produced about 650,000 doses of semen that have been sold around the world.

Now he’s heading back to the farm where he came from near Dunedin.

His original owner, Philip Wilson, says he’s going to ensure Firenze sees out his days in style.

“Well, we’re just bringing him home because we are proud of him and we reckon he deserves a bloody good retirement. . . .

UN look to Marlborough grape vine pruning crews – Chloe Winter:

Marlborough’s autumn colours are slowly disappearing as vine-pruning contractors move in to prepare the vineyards for next season’s growth.

Alapa Viticultural Services owner Alan Wilkinson has a team of 230 workers for the pruning season.

The workers were from Thailand, Japan, Samoa, China, Malaysia and the Czech Republic and would stay until the end of the season in September.

By that time, more than four million plants would have been pruned, stripped and wrapped, Wilkinson said. . .

 Bee’s conference breaking ground for the industry:

This year, for the first time, Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group will be joining with the National Beekeepers Association to host a New Zealand Apiculture Industry Conference in Wanganui.

“The theme of this conference is “Working Together” with a critical focus on advancing our fast growing and vital industry that is pivotal to New Zealand’s economy, with an estimated annual contribution of $5 billion a year,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bee Chairperson. . . .


Rural round-up

May 24, 2013

Agribusiness Innovation and Growth 2013:

New Zealand’s agritech sector is a $3 billion industry, generating export sales in excess of $700 million a year. Top players in the sector are gathering in Hamilton on the night before Fieldays for a mini-symposium on agribusiness and innovation. It’s a Universities New Zealand event, hosted by the University of Waikato on behalf of the University Commercialisation Offices of NZ (UCONZ), and it’s open to the public by online registration.

The keynote speakers will be the Minister for Economic Development Hon Steven Joyce, Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, and Fonterra Nutrition’s Managing Director Sarah Kennedy. . .

Fieldays Innovations Centre brings to life Kiwi can-do attitude:

The Fieldays Innovation Centre Competition is the perfect forum for inventors to introduce their primary industry themed, ‘homegrown’ designs to a local and global audience.

By creating an opportunity for inventors to showcase their designs and prototypes, which are then critiqued by key industry leaders, it’s the ideal way for Kiwis to get past the first, crucial step to gaining commercial success in New Zealand and beyond.

With a serious prize pool available for inventors in the following categories; Grassroots, Launch NZ and International (covering local and global, individual and company entrants), they must wow judges to be in with a chance of winning financial and mentoring support. The goal: to establish their invention across local and global territories and gain commercial success. . . .

Fertiliser Company Helps Curb Pollution in Rural Red Zone:

A group of South Island farmers have rallied together to improve their environmental practises and protect their land and waterways.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has declared the Upper Waitaki region a red zone because the nutrient levels in the Ahuriri River are too high.

At a farm field day organised by fertiliser and lime company,Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd, ECAN told farmers in the Ahuriri Valley that the community wants to see clean water in local rivers and streams and farmers need to better manage their nutrient application. . .

‘Farmy Army’s’ John Hartnell Honoured:

John Hartnell, the driving force behind Federated Farmers’ ‘Farmy Army’, received the New Zealand Order of Merit today.

Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, John organised farmers from around the region, now coined the ‘Farmy Army’, to assist in clearing liquefaction, delivering food parcels and providing general assistance to vulnerable families.

“It is a real honour to be recognised in this way by the Governor General, I am truly humbled,” says John. . .

Exports to China back on track:

Federated Farmers is hugely relieved the meat export impasse in China has been resolved, but believes New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) need to take a hard look in the mirror.

“Can we say thank you to the Minister, our trade officials and the Chinese authorities for solving a big problem,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“China is our largest market for lamb by volume and in the first quarter of 2013, surpassed Britain in terms of value for the first time ever. This is what was at stake so it is embarrassing to discover the fault lay here in New Zealand.

“It feels as if we have been ankle-tapped by a member of our own team. . .

MIE secures farmer mandate for meat industry reform:

A week after meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) has secured a farmer mandate to pursue a value and growing meat industry.

“Having concluded a series of meetings from Gore to Gisborne, MIE now has the confidence to push forward with red meat industry reform,” says Richard Young, Meat Industry Excellence chairman.

“Farmers realise there must be change in our industry if we are to arrest the loss of farms and farmers to other land uses, like dairying and these days, forestry. The only way you achieve this is to make red meat an attractive commercial proposition.

“That is why all industry stakeholders need to be part of the positive change our industry is desperately crying out for. Something MIE is here to champion. . .

New president for Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo:

Following Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo Annual General Meeting, Alan Wills has been elected provincial president following the retirement of Neil Heather.

“What Neil has done over the past few years will be a hard act to follow but I shall give it my best,” says Alan Wills, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The positive contribution made by Federated Farmers and Neil is exemplified by the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective. Known as the Otorua Accord, this was signed in February between Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Te Arawa and our councils. . .

New Technology to Boost Sustainable Fisheries Research:

 Deep sea technology that will provide some of the world’s most accurate and useful marine sustainability research is being launched today.

In a world-first, New Zealand fishing company Sealord has invested more than $750,000 in a new multi-frequency Acoustic Optical System (AOS).

At an event on-board Thomas Harrison, prior to the vessel taking the new equipment on its first sea-trial, Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy launched the new AOS which will provide a boost to the science that contributes to New Zealand’s world recognised Quota Management System. . .

Dollar Pushes up Local Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the local market lifted significantly for the 10,400 bales on offer at the South Island sale this week. The weakening NZ dollar, particularly against the US dollar which was down 4.97 percent compared to the last sale on 9th May and the weighted currency indicator down 3.91 percent was the principal market influence. This was supported by recent strong purchasing interest and a seasonal limited wool supply.

Mr Dawson advises that a nominal offering of Mid Micron Fleece were firm to 3 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

February 27, 2013

Future foods – Robert Hickson:

Will farm livestock become endangered species? Social, economic and environmental drivers are converging to not only look at producing food more efficiently and sustainably, but are also stimulating new ways to produce meat or remove the need for it altogether. Such changes, if successful, could have substantial effects on New Zealand’s agricultural and economic landscapes.

Lab-grown meat has been worked on for a while, and convergence with other technologies is starting. Modern Meadow  is aiming to print meat. In vitro production of meat still has a long way to go, technically, economically and socially. There is scepticism that it will become economically viable and sufficiently scaleable. Or even appeal to consumers. But would it really be that different from currently available mechanically extracted meat products , insects or some of the delights whipped up by molecular gastronomists? . . .

St John says thanks to Federated Farmers:

A $54,000 grant to St John from Federated Farmers will help the organisation continue its important community work.

Federated Farmers made several grants from their Adverse Events Trust in September 2012, and St John was one of the recipients. The money came from individual farmers, meat company workers and meant and wool companies.

Federated Farmers’ representatives Katie Milne (National Board Member) and John Hartnell (Chairman of the Bee Industry Group) visited the St John Regional Operations Centre to see the work of the ambulance communications centre, as well as have a look at a new ambulance. . .

Fonterra Milk for Schools attracts interest from more than half of NZ’s Primary Schools:

Contacting Fonterra has been on the to-do list for many New Zealand primary schools since the 2013 school year kicked off – and more than half of the country’s eligible schools have now expressed interest in Fonterra Milk for Schools.
 
More than 1100 schools, representing about 191,000 kids, have registered their interest in the nationwide programme which will provide free milk to primary-aged children every school day. This is on top of the more than 110 schools already participating in Northland.
 
Fonterra Group General Manager Global Co-operative Social Responsibility Carly Robinson says the number of schools getting in contact has been growing by the day. . .

Dairy expo braodens view of the industry – Sally Rae:

Question – what’s black and white and red all over? Not necessarily a newspaper.

It could be a cow hide tanned by Southland man Adam Cowie, who established his own business about three years ago after working in a tannery for many years.

Mr Cowie, from Animal Skin Tanning Services Ltd, had skins for sale at the Southern Region Dairy Expo at Clydevale last week.

The event, organised by the Clutha Valley Lions Club, attracted a wide variety of exhibitors, selling everything from tractors and trailers to fertiliser and milking systems, pumps and stockfeed. . .

Cultivar information aids autumn pasture decisions:

DairyNZ is encouraging farmers to use the latest Forage Value Index lists to help make decisions on perennial ryegrass cultivars.

The DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) was launched last May as an initiative between DairyNZ and the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association (NZPBRA). The region-specific FVIs utilise seasonal dry matter yields from NZPBRA’s National Forage Variety Trials.

DairyNZ’s Dr Jeremy Bryant says the latest set of FVI lists were released in December. . .

Kirsten Bryant re-elected to Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board:

Kirsten Bryant has been returned as the Western North Island Farmer Director on the Board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp has reported that Kirsten Bryant received 11,503 votes and John McCarthy received 6,149 votes. . .

First 2013 Dairy Awards Winners:

In less than a week the first regional winners in the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be announced, opening new opportunities and career prospects.

National convenor Chris Keeping says it is an exciting time when the winners of the 12 regional competitions become known and a new group of passionate and enthusiastic dairy farmers step forward.

“We had more than 550 entries this year, so our judges are working extremely hard to identify those sharemilkers, equity farmers, farm managers, contract milkers and trainees doing the best with the resources and farm they have available to them. The awards are not about being perfect, they are about making progress.” . . .

Dairy farmers have cost effective “friend in N”:

With high demand in dry areas edging up the price of supplementary feed, dairy farmers wanting to maintain production into late autumn have got an increasingly cost effective “friend in N”, says Ballance Science Extension Manager Aaron Stafford.

“As a feed source home grown pasture remains your best bang for buck and with supplementary feed prices now averaging $50 a tonne more, farms that are not battling the dry conditions will find N an even more competitive tool for extending autumn lactation and maintaining herd condition.”

Aaron says products like SustaiN Green, which reduces ammonia volatilisation, offer farmers more flexibility to apply nitrogen when it’s needed most or when it suits them better, even if the weather or soil conditions often experienced during autumn are not optimal. . .


Rural round-up

January 6, 2013

An inspiring start to farming life – Diane Bishop:

The Otago Southland farmer names Tangaroa Walker as its 2012 newsmaker of the year.

The world is Tangaroa Walker’s oyster.

Since winning the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Trainee-Cadet of the Year Award in June last year, he has taken up a lower order sharemilking position on the farm he previously managed at Rimu, near Invercargill.

“I’m really loving it,” Tangaroa said. . .

Beekeepers eschew kiwifruit orchards as Psa sprays create ‘hazard’ – Jonathan Underhill:

Some beekeepers have pulled their hives out of kiwifruit orchards, concerned that sprays used to control the Psa vine-wilting bacteria are the latest hazard for an under-siege bee population.

“More than one beekeeper has withdrawn their hives,” said John Hartnell, honey exporter and bees spokesman at Federated Farmers. He wouldn’t put his own hives on a kiwifruit orchard, saying “that would destroy my business overnight.” . . .

Varroa spread takes heavy toll – Tim Cronshaw:

Some South Island beekeepers with hives freshly exposed to varroa mites have lost up to 25 per cent of their bees.

They have been forced to replenish their hives with new bees by putting in a man- grafted queen cell in the top box of a non-infected colony and shifting it across to restore a full population.

Varroa has continued its run to as far south as Invercargill now, with the few remaining pockets in the South Island expected to be infected by autumn. . .

Pasture for dairy cows under trial – Terri Russell:

A Southland agricultural research centre is participating in its first trial of grass that will be grazed by dairy cows instead of sheep, a likely result of the shift to dairying in Southland, the centre manager says.

Woodlands Research Station is one of four sites throughout New Zealand hosting the trial, run by DairyNZ and AgResearch, to measure the growth of different pasture varieties.

The centre is monitoring eight varieties of grass over five years and across 20 paddocks. . .

Outlook cloudy for 2013 – Allan Barber:

As we head into the New Year, the Christmas break has provided an opportunity to consider how the meat industry is likely to pan out during 2013. But literally as I write this speculative opinion piece, the fate of the American economy is still uncertain – although the Senate approved a restructured deal on taxes and expenditure yesterday, Republican dominated Congress has yet again balked at reaching an acceptable conclusion.

By the time you read this, the situation will no doubt have changed again for the better or the worse, but it isn’t easy to predict which. . .

Ministry needs recreational quad bike focus:

Farmers are taking quad bike safety seriously, but the latest incident in the Hawke’s Bay, again highlights this message is not getting through to recreational users.

“Recreational users, quad bikes and alcohol are a cocktail for disaster,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers spokesperson for health and safety.

“While many farmers are heeding the safety message, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment need to find a better way to convey safety when it comes to recreational users. . .


Rural round-up

December 20, 2012

Dead cows suffered urea poisoning:

The deaths of a 120 cows on a south Taranaki farm was a large-scale, one-off accident, caused by urea poisoning, a vet has confirmed.

The cows, which made up about a quarter of the farmers’ herd, died suddenly earlier this month, after their water troughs had been topped up using a portable tank.

Within 30 minutes, cows began falling to the ground. Vets were called immediately, but there was little they could do as some of the cows died quickly.

Taranaki Veterinary Centre chief executive Stephen Hopkinson says the cows suffered urea poisoning.

He told NZ Newswire the portable tank used to fill up the water troughs had also been used to spray pastures with urea.

Though it was rinsed in between uses, there was still enough urea left in the bottom of the tank to poison the cows. . .

Smedley Station invites Lincoln University to join them in producing the ‘very best future farmers’:

North Island-based Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm has initiated a partnership agreement with Lincoln University to form a unique on-farm education and training offering for young farmers.
 
Smedley Station is located in the central Hawkes Bay, 40kms west of Waipukurau, and the 5,000ha (30,000 stock unit) property offers two-year, intensive on-farm training and experience for 22 cadets.   Smedley’s Board Chairman, Pat Portas, is delighted that the two like-minded training institutions have formed a partnership to work together: “Smedley’s vision is ‘developing the very best future farmers’.  For an individual to become one of the best farmers they need to have a well-rounded education, including both practical work and theory.   Smedley Station has traditionally been providing excellent on-farm practical training and the partnership with Lincoln University will now enable the delivery of the best land-based theory New Zealand has to offer.  Our cadets will finish their time here with all-round practical skills and having had the potential to study right through to Level 5 with the University”. . . 

Foresters growing less pruned wood:

Forest owners are moving away from production of pruned logs, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI has released the 2012 annual National Exotic Forestry Description (NEFD) report, which gives a snapshot of the area and make-up of New Zealand’s planted production forests. . .

Stay safe on the farm this summer:

On average, 850 people each year are injured riding quad bikes on farms. Five die.

It is because of these unacceptable statistics that Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment inspectors will visit farms this summer to ensure key quad bike safety steps are recognised and understood.

Rural Women New Zealand joins the Ministry in urging farmers and their families to take extra care on the farm over summer, particularly when it comes to quad bike safety.

As it gets closer to the holiday season the pace of work picks up and more tasks are fitted into the longer days. . .

Canterbury Earthquake Awards recognises the Farmy Army

Key members of Federated Farmers’ Farmy Army were recognised last evening at the Canterbury Earthquake Awards.

“The individual recognition received was a well deserved tribute for their selfless contribution and commitment,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees Chairperson and ‘Generalissimo’ of Federated Farmers’ Farmy Army.

“The five ‘Farmy Army’ people recognised last night accepted their awards really on behalf of the thousands who pitched in to help Christchurch. . .

Prevention best protection for facial eczema risk:

Reports that farm revenue is not matching increases to input costs mean farmers need to be acutely focused on maximising production.

Altum Animal Nutrition Manager Jackie Aveling says warmer temperatures and higher humidity are a sign that summer is finally here, but they also signal the potential for facial eczema.

“Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, deer and goats are all susceptible. For dairy farmers in particular, facial eczema can put a real brake on production when they are aiming to make the most of reasonable growing conditions at a time when peak production can taper off,” says Mrs Aveling. . .

Marlborough Sounds Blue Cod Fishery Opening For Summer:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is calling on recreational fishers to know the rules when they go fishing for blue cod in Marlborough this summer.

District Compliance Manager Manager Ian Bright said Fishery Officers would be out and about making sure recreational fishers follow the rules. . .

And from World Angus Forum:

angus


Rural round-up

August 25, 2012

Wet winter helping to spread killer kiwifruit infection – Jamie Morton:

The wettest winter some kiwifruit growers have seen is hampering efforts to stop Psa-V, at a time when the vine-killing disease is attacking New Zealand’s most popular variety.

The disease, which has ravaged gold kiwifruit orchards throughout the country since its discovery in Te Puke two years ago, is now being seen in a spate of serious cases among the green variety that makes up the bulk of the industry.

More than 60 orchards have notified industry group Kiwifruit Vine Health of possible Psa-V, and it is feared the disease could eventually reach up to half of New Zealand’s green kiwifruit growers. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for farmers to get more Americans eating lamb

Two Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer directors are meeting with the project partners involved with the Tri-Lamb Group which has a goal to get more Americans eating lamb.

Central South Island Director, Anne Munro and Southern South Island Director, Leon Black are in Idaho, representing New Zealand sheep farmers alongside their fellow Tri- Lamb Group representatives from Australia and the United States.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion said the collaborative promotion by the three sheep producing nations is built around the understanding that the profitability and sustainability of the lamb market in the US is important for farmers in all three countries. . .

Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees:

Federated Farmers is highlighting how everyone can make a difference to whether bees are healthily ‘fat’ or sickly skinny.

“Just like with all livestock, the health of bees reflects the protein and energy sources available to them,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson and an exporter of bee products.

“Good protein and nectar produces fat bees and in nature, fat bees are healthy bees. Federated Farmers I guess is standing up for the right of bees to become fat.

“We are keen to work with anyone and everyone to provide positive environments for the honeybee to flourish. 

“After several years’ work, Federated Farmers Trees for Bees now has ten regional planting guides available for anyone to create a bee friendly space.  While they are available from a number of websites, all you have to do is type “trees for bees” into Google. . .

Varroa is not the only threat to our honey bees – Bruce Wills:

In 2000, the sum of all fears for New Zealand’s beekeepers took place when the Varroa Destructor Mite was confirmed in Auckland.

A mere six years later, Varroa had jumped the Cook Strait to reach Nelson and progressively, over the past six years, has spread south.

This year it reached as south as you can travel in mainland New Zealand; Bluff. If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease.

Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives.

While people may judge the bee industry by the honey they purchase at a farmer’s market or the supermarket, that is a drop in the bucket.

The real value of honeybees is as pollinators par-excellence. . .

Varroa spreads but the battle for bees goes on:

By reaching Bluff in the 12 years since the Varroa Mite was first confirmed in Auckland, one of the world’s worst bee threats is close to completing its colonisation of New Zealand.

“Has Varrora had an impact on New Zealand? Absolutely,” confirms John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees chairperson and a major exporter of bee products.

“If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease. Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives. . . .

“That should give pause for thought as we celebrate the Honey Bee this week and the massive contribution this mighty insect makes to us all. The value of pollination alone is conservatively estimated at $5 billion each year.

Forest industry transforming itself

The forest and wood processing industries are moving quickly on a strategy to transform the sector.

The Wood Council (Woodco) has just given the go-ahead to a $400,000 research-based initiative which aims to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. Known as Woodscape, it is modelled on a major study carried out for the Canadian forest products industry in 2009.

“In the next decade we will see an increase in the harvest. We are determined to extract the best value we can from this resource and reinvigorate our sector,” says Woodco chair Doug Ducker. . .

PGG Wrightson reports $55m turnaround in bottom line profits

Rural services leader PGG Wrightson Limited (NZX: PGW) has announced an improved operating performance with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) for the year ended 30 June 2012 at $55.2m compared to $49.4m in the year ended June 2011.

Operating revenue was up 7.2% at $1,336.8m compared with $1,247.2m for 2011, while net profit after tax (NPAT) was at $24.5m, a $55.2m turnaround from the 2011 loss of $30.7m. A substantial turnaround in net operating cash flow to $58.6m (2011: $4.9m) reflected a strong focus on working capital and particularly debtor management, while enabling the company to reduce bank debt. Net interest costs were reduced to $13.8m from $28.1m for the prior period . .

New Zealand’s first Albariño wine awarded a Trophy on debut:

In 2011 one barrel of New Zealand’s first Albariño wine was made by Coopers Creek Vineyard and praised by wine critics. The second vintage has just been released and in its very first outing has been awarded a Trophy at the prestigious Bragato Wine Awards, held during the wine industry’s annual conference. The Select Vineyards Gisborne Albariño 2012 is available in restaurants and fine wine stores nationally. . .


Kia Kaha Christchurch

February 22, 2012

At 12:51 a year ago today, a violent earthquake shook Christchurch, Lyttleton and the hinterland.

It lasted just 24 seconds but in that time changed the city forever.

Among the victims on the day were 185 who were killed and many more who were injured.

The physical and financial costs of the quake, and the thousands of big and small ones which have followed, might be quantifiable.

The emotional impact on the people of Christchurch is not.

Today we will remember them all: the people who died; their family and friends who will still be mourning for them;  the people who were injured and those still supporting them; the people who were forced from their homes and businesses and those who have stayed.

Today is also an opportunity to honour the many organisations and individuals who have worked so hard to help the city and its people. Among them are Sam Johnson who was named Young New Zealander of the Year for his leadership of the Student Volunteer Army, and Federated Farmers’ John Hartnell who led the Farmy Army.

Today is an opportunity to look back in sadness but it’s also an opporutnity to look forward in hope.

Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Timetable of commemoration  services:

  • Christchurch

Where: North Hagley Park

When: 12pm-1:30pm

Christchurch residents welcome to attend the reading of names of the  185 who perished and two minute’s silence will be observed.

Where: North Hagley Park

When: 2pm-4pm

Christchurch Earthquake Awards will celebrate those who rose above the call of duty to assist others in the aftermath.

Where: Latimer Square

When: 8am-8.45am

Service focused towards those who lost loved ones as well as first  responders, the public is also welcome to attend.

Where: Avon River

When: 8am-8pm

An event called River of Flowers. The public is invited to  cast flowers into the river at particular sites. More information available here

Where: Christchurch Botanic Gardens

When: 10am-11.45am

Festival of Flowers where Golden Angel/Spirit sculpture will be  unveiled and ringing of Peace Bell by Japanese students who lost friends in the  CTV building.

Where: Wainoni/Avonside Community Services Trust

When: 12:45pm

Lighting of candles and two minutes’ silence along with other memorial  activites.

Where: Branston Intermediate

When: 4.30pm-7.30pm

The Crusaders will be manning the  free BBQ and there will be ice cream and games to entertain the  children.

Where: Sacred Heart Parish Church, Addington

When: 5pm-8pm

Mass by the Filipino community of  Christchurch.

Where: Queenspark Reserve

When: 5pm-7pm

A Memorial Reflection where northeast Christchurch residents can  reflect over the year at stations dotted around the park.

Where: Oxford Terrace Baptist Church

When: 7pm

Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood.  An installation of white chairs will represent earthquake victims.

Where: Holy Trinity Avonside

When: 7pm

Brief service and candle lighting will be followed by Ash Wednesday  service.

Where: Spreydon Baptist Church

When: 7.30pm

Remembrance and Ash Wednesday service.

  • Selwyn

Where: Selwyn District Council chambers, two minutes’ silence

When: 12.51pm

Where: Rolleston Domain

When: 5pm-7pm

Community picnic with music and children’s games

  • Waimakariri

Where: Kaiapoi Baptist Church, the Kaiapoi Club and the Oxford  Workingman’s Club

When: 12pm-1.30pm

North Hagley Park’s Civic Memorial Service will be screened.

Where: District Council Rangiora and Oxford service centres and  Darnley Square, Kaiapoi

When: 12.51pm

Two minute’s silence.

  • Auckland

Where: Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral

When: 12.30-1:00pm

Mayor Len Brown will lead two minute’s silence at 12.51pm.

Where: Aotea Square

When: 12.51pm

The Auckland Town Hall clock bell will ring at the start and finish of  two minutes’ silence.

Where: Auckland War Memorial Museum

When: 12pm-2pm

Reading from The Broken Book by Christchurch author Fiona  Farrell, two minutes’ silence at 12.51pm and a screening of When A City  Falls documentary at 1pm.

  • Wellington

Where: Anglican and Catholic cathedrals

When: 12.30pm

Wellington’s service will be hosted by the Anglican and Catholic  cathedrals, as vigil of solidarity with the two iconic Christchurch cathedrals  that were destroyed.

  • Dunedin

Where: Otago Museum lawn

When: 12.30pm

Otago Student Association president Logan Edgar says a two minute’s  silence, mayoral address from Dave Cull and end karakia will be held.

  • Wanganui

Where: Majestic Square

When: 5pm

Wanganui District Council’s youth committee and Mayor Annette Main will  be hosting a service.


Celebrating winners counters tall poppy syndrome

July 3, 2011

Fonterra CEO Andrew Ferrier is Federated Farmers Agribusiness Person of the Year.

This is fair recognition of the work he has done in the nearly eight years he’s led the company.

Agri-Personality of the Year  was awarded to John Hartnell and the Farmy Army.

John Hartnell was nominated to recognise his leadership of the ‘Farmy-Army’, which assisted Christchurch’s earthquake recovery from February of this year and again in June.

John was prepared to lead the Federation’s efforts to help the people of urban Christchurch in the recovery phase of the earthquake’s aftermath. In taking on the role as Federated Farmers Earthquake Spokesperson the morning after the earthquake, John worked closely with Civil Defence to understand the immediate needs of Christchurch residents and to identify assistance that would fit with the abilities and enthusiasm of our farmer members.

Over the next two days, John worked closely with a core group of Federated Farmers members to assemble a volunteer group and a base at the A+P Showgrounds. This included a team of support staff, team leaders and cooks. Sponsors were very keen to help in tangible ways, including cash donations, equipment, food and drinks.

The media were inspired by the actions of Federated Farmers and thus, the ‘Farmy Army’ was born.

We all know the efforts and achievements in the four weeks of help given to Christchurch and now, a further week jointly with the Student Volunteer Army.

What has amazed many, are the number of Christchurch people who, upon learning you are a farmer, very quickly and without prompting say, “are you part of the Farmy Army? What a magnificent job”, or “they arrived an cleared my elderly neighbour’s section” and “they cleaned up my driveway when I was away working”, “They were a Godsend”

The actions of the Farmy Army did a tremendous job in breaking down the rural-urban divide with compassion and caring shown by country people; something not so often seen in big cities today.

Most certainly John was assisted by a large team, but his leadership, inspiration and dedication to that team was a pivotal part of the success of the Farmy Army. John’s trademark “hand on the shoulder” is his most genuine was of saying “Thanks, your help is most appreciated”.

Mr Hartnell played tribute in his acceptance to Murray Rowlands, North Canterbury Grain & Seed chairperson, for his leadership during last year’s Canterbury earthquake. Overall, John Hartnell, Commander in Chief of the Farmy Army, is a deserved winner of the 2011 Agri-Personality of the Year on behalf of everyone who volunteered in the Farmy Army.

 Federated Farmers Cream of the Crop awards recognise those who have won various national awards over the past twelve months went to:

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Sharemilker / Equity Farmers of the Year – Jason & Lisa Suisted

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Sharemilker / Equity Farmers of the Year Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Richard and Joanna Greaves

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Farm Manager of the Year -Jason Halford

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Dairy Trainee of the Year – Ben Smith

Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Supreme Awards – Lisa Harper

Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award – Waipapa 9 Trust (Dawson Haa, Chairman)

NZ Young Farmers National Bank Young Farmer of the Year 2010 – Grant McNaughton

New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust Ballance Farm Environment Award – Grant and Bernadette Weller.

One way to counter the tall poppy syndrome  is to celebrate winners and this initiative by Federated Farmers does that well.


Don’s final speech a vintage one

July 1, 2011

Don Nicolson made his final conference address as Federated Farmers president a vintage one.

Farming is the sunrise is worth reading in full. It highlights the contribution farming makes to the country, deals with some issues and also gives praise where it’s due:

I wish to acknowledge and publicly thank our Minister, the Hon David Carter.

At times I will admit there has been tension. As a lobby group we want things ‘our way’ while the Minister has to negotiate a byzantine Yes Ministerworld.

I’ve known the Minister for a number of years and he is an honourable man and a fine farmer.

I can honestly say that we agree many more times with the Minister than we disagree

We share the same view that agriculture is the sunrise and I value what he says and does for us all. He has pushed water storage up the political agenda and is leading the re-merger of MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries.

With 71 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise trade behind it, this Ministry for Primary Industries is the policy partner we seek. One that will have the swagger in Government to get what we need to build a future for New Zealand and all New Zealanders.

Can I also thank Tim Groser who is doing frankly an outstanding job on the trade front as well as Kate Wilkinson, who is realigning the Department of Conservation while looking hard at things that block sensible outcomes.

And of course, there is the dynamic duo of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

These two see agriculture as the sunrise. As the key to prosperity while unlocking the door to related industries and exports. Given pastoral imagery is used to sell New Zealand as a tourist destination, farming I can say, is a tourism ace too.

There are still outstanding issues and of course, the notion that the world’s gaze is on New Zealand single handily saving the planet by slashing a fraction off the 0.2 percent of the global emissions attributed to us.

At this point I can almost see Phil Goff re-tweeting his gibe that we’re the “Nats in blue gumboots”. At the time he said that, John Hartnell was meeting with Christchurch City Council for a combined Farmy Army and Student Volunteer Army effort in that battered city.

Mr Goff, it was an ill-timed, insensitive and frankly rude. Federated Farmers has not only invested huge amounts of resources in Christchurch and Canterbury, but meat and fibre farmers, meat processors and meat company workers have donated $325,000 to Christchurch in recent weeks.

Federated Farmers has been far more effective on agricultural issues than the opposition because we are apolitical. Or as our CEO Conor English rightly puts it, “we don’t care who is in power so long as they agree with us!”

I know Phil Goff and I like him but sir, you are a much better person than those comments.

Labour will one day form government so we must keep the lines of communication open as we did speaking at its 2009 conference in this city. As well as being the only major business organisation to participate in its shadow banking enquiry.

Today’s Opposition is tomorrow’s Government and we must play with a straight bat.

In case the message that Feds is apolitical, was missed here it is again:

Federated Farmers has been far more effective on agricultural issues than the opposition because we are apolitical. Or as our CEO Conor English rightly puts it, “we don’t care who is in power so long as they agree with us!”

That is how any lobby group should be. Working on behalf of and advocating for its members with all parties; doing its best to get governments, local and central, and other peole and agencies to agree with them – and accepting that won’t always be the case.


Rural round-up

June 11, 2011

Women are “half the equation” – Sally Rae:

Women play a crucial role in farming operations, Eloise Neeley [Otago Federated farmers junior vice-president] says.

They were often overlooked yet they made a very valuable contribution, Mrs Neeley said, describing them as “half the farming equation”.

Frequently, their work was behind the scenes, either in administration or organising what was happening on the farm, and they were also “bringing up future farmers”, she said. . .

New president after “fair deal on farms” – Sally Rae:

Richard Strowger [North Otago Federated Farmers president] wants to see farmers get a “fair deal”.

Although New Zealand had a population of four million, there were just 45,000 farmers who produced “the wealth of the country” and Mr Strowger wanted to represent the farming community to help “give them a fair shot”.

He has been a longtime member of the farmer lobby group, saying it was the voice for farmers and he was pleased to see membership growing. . .

Partnerships contribute to global picture of sustainability:

BusinessNZ and Landcare Research have partnered with the producer of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), to provide an accurate and complete sustainability reports database for New Zealand.

BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and services. “Businesses providing transparent and comparable reporting on how they manage their economic, environmental, social and governance impacts is a valuable way for them to respond to consumers’ concerns and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development.” . . .

Contest winners entered to learn – Sally Rae:

It’s all about teamwork for New Zealand ewe hogget competition winners Phill Hunt and Lizzie Carruthers.

Ms Carruthers does the stock work on Fork Farm at Maungawera, near Wanaka, while her husband looks after the maintenance, tractor work and book work.

They give each other a hand when required – “not book work, though”, Ms Carruthers quickly quipped. . .

Bees working under radar

A TINY creature that plays a major role in the production of $5 billion worth of primary exports was recently celebrated by way of ‘Bee Week’.

The bee makes its greatest contribution by pollinating crops, but New Zealand also exports $100m-worth of honey products.

Daniel Poole, of the National Bee Keepers Association, says for many years bees have flown underneath the radar with people failing to recognise their value. He says this is now changing and people are starting to appreciate just how important bees are. . .

Why the Bee team is the A team

Since 2000, Varroa has seen the loss of at least 200,000 bee colonies.  Federated Farmers believes it doesn’t matter what hat farmers wear; sheep, kiwifruit, mohair or dairy, all farmers are on the bee team, which is actually, New Zealand’s A team.

“Last week, Bee Week celebrated the honey bee and the massive contribution it makes to our economy and farm system,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson.

“While our direct income as an industry sits at around $100 million, modest in the much larger agricultural scheme of things, bees enable almost all sectors except fisheries and forestry. . .

Federated farmers High Country conference  chair’s opening address:

The theme for this year’s High Country Conference is “Sensible Solutions”.

This could be viewed by some as being a bit optimistic. After all, this sector has been seeking sensible solutions for nearly 70 years and has found it an uphill struggle, particularly when faced with bureaucratic reticence and political ideology.

However, I believe we have seen more forward progress in the past 12 months in a variety of issues, than has been evident for many years. There is still much work to be done on a number of matters, but the fact that many people are constructively involved in that work is a positive sign . . .

Wet mowing kills weeds – Taranaki Daily News reports:

Research has provided evidence to show that mowing californian thistle in the rain really does help get rid of the weed.

It will come as no surprise to many farmers, but there is now evidence that mowing pasture in the rain helps to reduce the abundance of Cirsium arvense.

It is the most destructive pastoral weed in New Zealand.

Research has provided quantitative evidence that mowing in the rain really works, as well as uncovering a potential biological basis for the effect. . .

SC Finance receiver sued by Fonterra director – NZ Herald:

Dairy Holdings shareholder and director Colin Armer and his wife Dale have filed a High Court claim against their fellow shareholders, including South Canterbury Finance (SCF) receivers and government representatives Kerryn Downey and William Black of McGrathNicol.

They allege the receivers efforts to sell the company breach a shareholders’ agreement and that attempts to force the Armers out have stooped to blackmail. . .

Third milk inquiry looming – Andrea Fox:

A third official investigation could be imminent into how dairy giant Fonterra sets the price of milk for New Zealand after the chairman of Parliament’s commerce select committee said an explanation by government officials left her with more questions than answers.

Competition watchdog the Commerce Commission is due to report any day on whether a full price control inquiry into retail milk is warranted after official complaints, including an allegation from the processing industry that Fonterra is artificially inflating the price of milk. . .

Dags and fibre make grass grow – Owen Hembry:

An Auckland firm has rolled out an ingenious use for the byproducts of an unlikely combination; sheep and coffee.

Woolgro mixes dag wool – which is often exported for low grade products – and jute fibre from used coffee sacks to create a seed-infused mat to be rolled out over ground ready for a lawn.

Geoff Luke is a co-founder and director with a background in residential architecture and had struggled with different methods of laying lawns.

“The beauty of the mat is that it does create the perfect germination environment for the seed,” he said. . .

Success: funding helps make most of milk – Christine Nikiel:

Angel investors’ $500,000 aims to boost sales of dairy-based health products.

The word mastitis can strike fear into the heart of even the staunchest dairy farmer. The painful udder infection is the most common disease in dairy cows and can have a huge impact on milk production.

Antibiotics are the most common treatment, but using them means the cow must be isolated, sometimes for weeks, and the milk thrown away. . .

Honour shocks TB expert – Jon Morgan:

When Paul Livingstone opened the letter with the New Zealand Government seal on it he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I had to check the envelope to see if it had my name on it,” the Animal Health Board expert in tuberculosis in possums says.

The letter told him he was to be awarded the Queen’s Service Order for services to veterinary science. “I was astounded. It never entered my head that I could get an award like that.”

But it had entered the heads of many other people. Farming, ministry and veterinary leaders in New Zealand and overseas wrote in to back the recommendation of the award and Dr Livingstone’s name was included in the weekend’s Queen’s Birthday honours . . .

 Preserving for posterity’s sake:

The region has already lost 97 per cent of its wetlands, and 75 per cent of its forest cover. JILL GALLOWAY talked to He Tini Awa trustees about how they are helping to change the balance a bit.

The project we visit is an eight-hectare wetland near Pohangina village.

It is owned by Gordon and Anne Pilone and is home to dabchicks, mallards and paradise ducks – and lots of pukeko. . .

 Raising chooks and cash –  Terry Tacon:

 New Zealander bidding to double the size of his Australian-based broiler chicken business was back in familiar territory last week.

This interview with Max Bryant, executive director of ProTen, was conducted in what was his former office in the Agribusiness Centre in Weld St, Feilding, these days occupied by NZX Agri editorial manager Tony Leggett.

Bryant was a sheep and beef farmer on a 120ha property at Halcombe when in 1982 he “virtually went broke” from a failed kiwifruit venture in which he had invested. . .

Merino farmers given chance – Gerald Piddock:

Merino growers have a watershed opportunity to take ownership of their marketing business from the sale of PGG Wrightson’s 50 per cent shareholding of New Zealand Merino (NZM) to Merino Grower Investments Limited (MGIL), NZM director Ross Ivey says.

The sale of the shareholding valued at $7.625 million, is subject to approval by MGIL’s 630 grower shareholders who own 50 per cent of NZM.

Mr Ivey, who farms merinos at Glentanner Station near Aoraki Mt Cook, said he would be very surprised if MGIL’s shareholders rejected the proposal. . .

More to bees than honey – Gerald Piddock:

The New Zealand bee industry is in good heart and in good health, but there are challenges ahead, according to an industry representative.

Although varroa was widespread throughout the country, diseases such as European foulbrood, small hive beetle and Israel acute paralysis virus were present in Australia, but have not yet been found in New Zealand, National Beekeepers Association (NBA) joint chief executive Daniel Paul said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we don’t want Australian honey imports, because they have the potential to bring in threats that could potentially undermine the health of the industry.” . . .

 


PKE brings biosecutiry risk

November 4, 2009

Federated Farmers has been questioning the biosecurity risk from imports of Palm Kernel Extract  for some time and Rural News reports that risk has now been officially recognised.

Foot and mouth disease could reach New Zealand in palm kernel but steps are finally being taken to close down the pathway, says Federated Farmers.

Biosecurity spokesman John Hartnell says he understands Biosecurity NZ is working with its Australian counterpart to tackle what it now admits is a gap in the current import health standard.

‘There is a big hole in the process and that’s the time the product sits on the ground between when it leaves the crusher and when it is loaded on the boat.

Greenpeace has been campaigning against PKE imports on environmental grounds. The biosecuirty risk is far more serious.

The current import health standard relies on heating during oil extraction, rendering the meal sterile, but meal is often stored before shipment, sometimes on bare earth.

That provides a window for insect infestation and, worse still, contamination with potential foot and mouth disease bearing material such as soil or animal remains, says Hartnell.

That risk might be small but it is not something we can afford to ignore.

The detection of atypical scrapie (also known as Nor 98) in a single sheep’s brain last week almost went unnoticed. MAF was upfront about it, explained how it was detected and the implications of the find, including most importantly that it doesn’t change our scrapie-free status.

Even a false alarm about Foot & Mouth disease would be far more serious. The hoax letter sent in 2005 which said the disease was on Waiheke Island, caused a dip in the dollar and threatened exports.

No matter how cheap PKE is, unless it can be guaranteed foot and mouth free it is too expensive.


Greenpeace has wrong target for wrong reasons

September 17, 2009

Greenpeace activists might have had a case if they were protesting about the biosecurity risks from importing palm kernel extract.

But in undertaking an act of piracy and attacking Fonterra they had the wrong target for the wrong reasons.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson was right to call it an act of piracy.

“I fully respect the freedom of Greenpeace to protest legally but they have crossed the line by interfering with legal commerce and free navigation on the high seas.

“That’s why the Police need to take this act of piracy, or sea-robbery, very seriously and prosecute those activists to the full extent of the law.  Those activists need to be sent a message that is unequivocal and clear.  They need to be made an example of.

“It’s also economic treason designed to damage New Zealand’s reputation abroad.  Greenpeace is actually anti-farming and these new tactics show how low they are prepared to go. 

Nicolson pointed out PKE is a waste by-product of a waste by-product, derived from producing palm oil we eat or consume daily. 

This point was made by Feds’ biosecurity spokesman John Hartnell in an earlier media release:

“Palm kernel extract is a waste by-product left over from the processing of palm oil for consumer products.  I can’t state that enough, palm kernel is a waste by-product.

“Palm kernel has so little commercial value that if it isn’t recycled into supplementary feed, it is burnt.  That doesn’t sound too great for either climate change or the environment. . .

“Palm plantations aren’t created just to generate a waste by-product, just as newspapers don’t exist solely to support recycling.

Farming is a much easier target than the people who buy potato chips and all the other food which contains palm oil and Nicolson correctly points out:

“Greenpeace knows it cannot win the argument on logic so has resorted to illegal means to express its lies.  It’s a despicable new tactic that has Greenpeace’s loathing of farming written all over that ship. 

Fonterra said the ship wasn’t carrying any feed bound for its stores and that it only uses pke from sustainable sources.

The 14 activists who illegally boarded the ship have been arrested.


PKE fungi story short on facts long on hysteria

August 31, 2009

Disclosing a preliminary draft report on the danger of fungi in palm kernel extract (PKE)  as Sue Kedgley did in parliament was reckless and irresponsible, Federated Farmers says.

“Releasing a preliminary draft report, which has never been finalised, peer reviewed or subjected to robust scientific methodology is irresponsible,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Palm Kernel Expeller is a dry feed and like any dry matter, if it gets wet, it will attract fungi.  That’s the same with maize, silage, bread or even sportswear. 

“AgResearch put together a draft report on the ‘shocking expose’ that Palm Kernel Expeller, when wet, attracts fungi. . . 

“The Ministry of Agriculture reviewed the report in 2006 and found that of the fungi identified, the vast majority were already present in New Zealand and the few remaining were common in almost every country on earth.

“The New Zealand Food Safety Authority looked at the general issue of fungal growth on animal feed and concluded there was no risk to food safety.”

He said he’s concerned that the Green Party grabs every opportunity, no matter how tenuous, to knock New Zealand’s largest and most important industry.

“Most people don’t believe the recycling of a waste by-product like Palm Kernel Expeller into animal feed is a bad thing, so long as it comes from certified sources.  Especially if that waste would otherwise be burnt or just left to rot.

“Most New Zealanders also believe it’s hypocritical to target farmers, when they themselves use palm oil daily in the household goods they consume or the cosmetics they wear.

“I’d be highly surprised if products containing palm oil were not present in the homes of the Green Party MPs.  That said, this serves as a timely reminder to ensure dry feed is stored appropriately,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Feds biosecurity spokesman John Hartnell responded earlier to criticism on the use of PKE as cow feed by Greenpeace saying PKE was a waste by-product left over from the processing of palm oil for consumer products.

“Palm kernel has so little commercial value that if it isn’t recycled into supplementary feed, it is burnt.  That doesn’t sound too great for either climate change or the environment. . .

“Palm plantations aren’t created just to generate a waste by-product, just as newspapers don’t exist solely to support recycling. . .

He said there was a genuine problem with PKE which Feds had been concerned about.

“”Yet for a long period of time, Federated Farmers has been questioning the biosecurity risks posed by what seems to be a great amount of uncertified palm kernel entering New Zealand.  There’s a huge biosecurity hole posed by the stuff.”

That risk is not the risk of fungi mentioned in the preliminary draft report.


Biosecurity threat or just non-tariff barrier?

April 11, 2009

MAF’ Biosecurity’s  provisional import health standards  for pig meat and by-products is a swine of a decision according to Federated Farmers.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is setting a disturbing precedent by lowering the bar for imported pork.  It is simply unacceptable on biosecurity grounds,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson. 

“The unintentional risk of the HIV-like Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS virus) entering New Zealand is too high and the Federation backs New Zealand Pork on this issue.

“New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries on earth free of PRRS.  It’s no wonder the pork industry doesn’t want it here, given piglet mortality can peak at 70 percent during the acute phase.

“The New Zealand pig herd could become infected with PRRS if infected imported raw pork was fed to an unregistered pig.  This could easily occur on a lifestyle block or in the suburbs. 

MAF says  the risk of PRRS in consumer-ready products can be managed by the import health standards they’re proposing so is the farmers’ opposition based on facts or fear of competition?

New Zealand apple growers have long complained that Australia’s opposition to our fruit because of the risk of fireblight is really a non-tariff barrier barrier masquerading as a biosecurity threat. Opposition to the new standards for pig meat imports could be regarded as a similar ploy.

We have to be very careful that any opposition we have to the import of goods from other countries is based on science and not just an attempt to reduce competition because the sauce we try to apply to other people’s pork could just as easily be applied to our produce elsewhere.


MAF gives up on bee mite

September 25, 2008

Biosecurity New Zealand has revoked all movement controls on beehives after the varroa bee mite was found in North Canterbury.

It will now focus on funding research and help bee keepers live with the mite.

Federated Farmers bee industry chairman John Hartnell said he doubted the mite could ever be killed off.

“We can manage the beehive but what we can’t manage is the feral population,” he said.

Hartnell said he hoped that by next autumn an organic treatment option would be available.

“The timing might be OK because most beekeepers, apart from those with high infestations, won’t be required to treat their hives until autumn, when the numbers (of mite) start to build up,” he said.

Chemical treatment costs between $40 and $50 a hive, which could cripple some beekeeping operations.

It is much easier to stop incursions at the border than to eradicate them once they’re established and the spread of varroa reinforces the importance of vigilence in airport and port inspections of inbound luggage and freight.


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